Monterey Road Trip: Awesome Beaches, Abundant Wildlife

By Rachel Puryear

If you love beaches, gorgeous coastlines, and diverse sea wildlife; Monterey, California (and many of its surrounding areas) make for a great road trip.

Here’s a recap of my own recent road trip down the coast (from the San Francisco Bay Area) to Monterey:

Año Nuevo State Park is along the California coastal Highway 1, in the town of Pescadero. This wildlife refuge is home to abundant ocean and coastal wildlife. There’s a gentle, wide dirt trail that leads to great views of the ocean. Tours to see seals are also available (this is to limit the number of people around these creatures to avoid stress on them).

If you visit, be sure to also stop by the museum. You can learn more about the Ohlone people who have inhabited this area since long before the arrival of Europeans, as well as what scientists have learned about these coastal lands and the wildlife.

Año Nuevo State Park, overlooking beach from trail.

Año Nuevo State Park, coastline.

Año Nuevo State Park, “Night Life” interpretive sign.

If you’re visiting Monterey, the city’s huge, world-famous aquarium is a must-see. Allow 3-4 hours to see all the exhibits. Also, visitors must now buy tickets online. If you have kids, there are special areas just for young ones – including some where you can pet sea creatures!

Monterey Bay Aquarium, kelp forest.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, penguins.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, coral life.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, jellyfish.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, sleeping otter.

Monterey also features a 17-mile scenic drive, named for Pebble Beach.

It’s a gorgeous drive – peaceful, romantic, with close-up views; and many spots where you can stop, park, and go on the beach. Lots of striking and dramatic coastline vistas. Allow a few hours for the drive, including stopping and seeing the sites at a leisurely pace.

Interestingly, even though the drive is named for Pebble Beach (which is just one of the many stops), Pebble Beach overlook itself isn’t that impressive – I had imagined a big, gorgeous beach with lots of colorful pebbles. Instead, it’s a small, weary-looking strip of sand, with a giant golf course and overpriced condos built up to just a few feet from shore.

However, all the other sites are awesome. Just don’t judge it by its namesake.

Monterey 17-mile drive, Spanish Bay Beach.

Monterey 17-mile drive, Bird Rock.

Monterey 17-mile drive, Seal Rock.

Your Free Range Life host, at Shell Beach, Monterey 17-mile drive.

Monterey 17-mile drive, Ghost Trees.

Monterey 17-mile drive, Shepherd’s Knoll.

If you’re in the central area of the California coast, these amazing sights are not to be missed. It’s a trip that can be done over a few days, at a relaxed pace.

Please remember to leave no trace, and keep nature beautiful.

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Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to our gorgeous coasts, and the wildlife within them.

Check out my other blog, too – World Class Hugs, at It’s about celebrating empathic and giving people, how we can have more balanced relationships with others, open-minded spirituality, and nature trips.

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Road Trips Uncategorized

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